Interrogative Pronouns

What are Interrogative Pronouns ?

Interrogative Pronouns are used for asking questions.

They are similar in form to relative pronouns. But the work which they do is different.

E.g. who/whom/which/what/whose

Concept 1

When interrogative form of a sentence starts with ‘wh’ family, helping verb comes before the subject.

Who are you looking for? (are – helping verb; you - subject)
What do you know? (do – helping verb; you - subject)
Which one do you want?

Concept 2

Interrogative Pronouns are also used to ask indirect questions.

Here ‘wh’ family word is used to join two sentences, and an assertive form of sentence follows the ‘wh’ family word.

I do not know who drew this graffiti.

Tell me what package you want.

Here helping verb is used after the subject.

I don’t know who are you. (incorrect)
I don’t know who you are. (correct; you – subject; are – helping verb)

Who, Whom and Whose

Forms of who: who and whom

  • who - can be used as subject, object or subject + object

    Who wants to come? (who – subject, i.e. in subjective case)
    Who did you go with? (who – object, i.e. in objective case)
    Who did you say won the match? (who – object of the whole sentence; however it works as the subject for the verb won; ‘you’ is the subject of the verb say and the subject of the whole sentence too)

  • whom - can only be used as object

    With whom did you go? (whom - object)

Nowadays the ‘objective who’ is more commonly used than ‘whom’ (especially in spoken English).
  • whose - always in possessive case

    Whose bike is that? (whose – possessive case)

What and Which

What and Which – they do not have different forms for different cases.

They can be used as subject and object.

What is that? (what – subject)
What are you looking for? (what – object)

Which is she? (which – subject)
Which do you prefer? (which – object)

Uses of Interrogative Pronouns

Use Case 1

Who, Whom, and Whose are used only for persons.

Who was hurt? (the answer is expected to be the name of some person.)
Whom did you see?
Whose is this kite?

So, ‘Whose’ cannot be used for non-living things.

This is a new element whose discovery was done by Martin Klaproth. (incorrect)
This is a new element, the discovery of which was done by Martin Klaproth. (correct)

Use Case 2: Uses of Whose

‘Whose’ is used to find out the owner.

Whose bike is this?

Use Case 3: Whom and Who with a preposition

Whom and Who with a preposition:

We use ‘preposition + whom’ and not ‘preposition + who’.

Pattern: Preposition + whom …..?

By who was the Da Vinci Code written? (incorrect)
By whom was the Da Vinci Code written? (correct)

If preposition is used at the end of the sentence, ‘who’ comes at the starting of the sentence.

Pattern: Who + ….. + Preposition …..?

Who was the Da Vinci Code written by?

Use Case 4: Uses of Which

Which is used in case of both persons and things. It implies selection from a limited number of items.

Which of you has broken this chair? (which used for person)
Which of these keys is yours? (which used for thing)

If a choice is to be made between two or more, which is used.

Who is your son in the team? (incorrect)
Which is your son in the team? (correct)

Use Case 5: Uses of What

Concept 1: Used only for things

What is used for things only.

What have you found? (the answer is expected to be the name of some thing.)
What was it all about?
What do you want?
What did you say?

Concept 2

What ….. is/am/are/was/were ….. + Noun/Pronoun? (it means the profession/employment is being enquired, and not the person)

What are you? … I am an engineer.
What is he? … He is an architect.

Nowadays these are more common then the above:
What do you do?
What does he do?
When we use ‘Who’, it means we are enquiring about the name and family of the person.
Who is he? … He is Mr. Ratan Tata.

Compound Interrogative Pronouns

Compound Interrogative Pronouns – e.g. whoever, whatever, whichever.

Whatever are you doing?
Whoever told you so?

Extra Books and Tools

Though the matter on our website is in-depth and comprehensive enough for the demands of most of the aptitude exams, but it may feel daunting for the same reasons. Moreover, some learners prefer paperback books over websites.

So, if you are a beginner level English learner, and prefer books, you may explore the following English Grammar books too.

1. Wren & Martin - This book has been around for long and is still considered one of the best. Though many concepts have not been dealt with in much depth here, but beginners may find it a breeze to read. Once you are done with it, the content on our website will work as a rich add-on. If you are getting this book, make sure you get the key to its exercises too.

Links for readers from USA, UK, Canada, and other countries:

High School English Grammar and Composition Paperback

Key to Wren and Martin

Link for Indian readers: Wren and Martin

2. More advanced learners may refer to the following books. However, buy them only if you must. Most of your English Grammar learning needs will easily be met by our website.

A. Essential English Grammar by Raymond Murphy

Link for readers from USA, UK, Canada, and other countries: Essential Grammar in Use - with Answers

Link for Indian readers: Essential English Grammar

B. Intermediate English Grammar by Raymond Murphy

Link for readers from USA, UK, Canada, and other countries: English Grammar in Use - with Answers

Link for Indian readers: Intermediate English Grammar

C. Advanced English Grammar by Martin Hewings

Link for readers from USA, UK, Canada, and other countries: Advanced Grammar in Use - with Answers

Link for Indian readers: Advanced English Grammar

So much so for Englsh Grammar. But what about Comprehension skills and Vocabulary?

We strongly believe that Comprehension skills and Vocabulary are more a matter of practice. The more you read, the better you will become in them. In fact, this will help you in Grammar too. Afterall Grammar rules are just in the nature of temporary scaffholding - the goal is to read, write and speak a language without consciously remembering even a single Grammar rule.

So, we suggest you to read vividly. Ideally, carry some tool with you that you may refer so as to learn the meaning of any word that is new to you. There are many ways you may go about it.

* The old method: Carry a good dictionary with you. But who does?

* Download a Thesauraus app on your mobile or just google it. Better, but we still need to stop reading, open the app, type and then search. Boring!

The methods mentioned above kill the joy of reading. Who wants to stop reading in the midst of an interesting plot and look for the meaning of a word? And if you are a lazy soul like me, Oh man! No chance!

That's why I prefer to read on gadgets like Kindle. We may just tap on any word and see its meaning there and then. It's also not taxing on the eyes.

Link for readers from USA, UK, Canada, and other countries:

Link for Indian readers:

There are a multitude of Kindle models and versions available. So, you may have to do some research on your own regarding which model serves your need the best. Though, any model will meet our basic reading needs.

If you guys know about any more such books, gadgets and technologies that are awesome and may help English learners, do share 😇
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